Earlier this month, Harvard extended a prestigious fellowship to Chelsea Manning, the former army officer who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for leaking classified information to Wikileaks. 

Then, just a few days later, they took it away.

"I now think that designating Chelsea Manning as a visiting fellow was a mistake, for which I accept responsibility," wrote the Kennedy School's dean, Douglas Elmendorf, in astatement posted to their website. He went on to say that he did not wish to imply that the Kennedy School was honoring Manning or endorsing her decisions by awarding her the fellowship. 

Paul Reville, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and head of their Education Redesign Lab, suggested that by rescinding the fellowship to Manning, the university was giving in to outside criticism. After Manning was originally named, CIA Director Mike Pompeo canceled an appearance at the university and wrote apublic letterin support of a former CIA official who also resigned from a fellowship at the Kennedy School in protest. 

"This would appear — on the surface, at any rate — to be simply bowing to pressure from constituencies," Reville said.

Reville believes fellowships should be awarded based on who can provide the most interesting lessons for students, rather than by popularity.

"One of the things we're trying to encourage is political empathy, [to] try to understand those whose views or behaviors or values you oppose, try to understand how they've come to that," he explained.

"That's a worthwhile conversation for students to have. Now, they won't be able to have it," Reville said.

Click the audio player above to hear more from Paul Reville.